Travelling gluten-free is always a challenge but it’s a challenge I will always happily accept. Celiac disease will never keep me at home and particularly will never keep me from Italy! The last time I visited Italy for a month I was 19 and hadn’t yet been diagnosed as celiac but I sure was. On our backpacker budget of $40 a day (including travel) my friends and I were eating bread, nutella, pastries, pizza, paninis and more bread. To say I had stomach problems would be an understatement but at the time it was normal to always have stomach problems. Now more than ten years later I was curious to see what Italy had to offer in the gluten-free department. I was looking forward to eating in Italy as I had heard that they were very accommodating to gluten-free diets. My consensus after two weeks visiting Rome and some of the coast north of Rome is it’s a pretty good place to travel gluten-free if you have normal expectations and are easy going about it. Not once did someone not know what senza glutine was. Everyone I spoke to understood what it meant, which doesn’t always happen in Montreal. As usual, airports and small cafés do not have good options but most restaurants were able to at least make me salad and fish, while most had risotto or gf pasta and quite a few places had pizza that was safe for celiacs. In Italy they understand that for celiacs eating gluten-free is not just a diet but a treatment for a disease.
Packing lots of snacks for any trip is always very important when travelling gluten-free. For the flight I brought a sandwich and snacks and for the trip things like gluten-free granola to add to my yogurt for breakfast, nuts and Larabars were key. Once I was in Rome I picked up some gluten-free products at the grocery store in the Termini station. Before I left I researched restaurants and saved maps detailing how to get there them from my hotel on my phone. In less than 48 hours in Rome I had two pizzas, pasta and two servings of gluten-free gelato.
I highly recommend Fatamorgana in Rome. Not all gelato is gluten-free and it can also get contaminated from cones. At Fatamorgana all the gelato and the cones are %100 gluten-free. I went to two different locations and all the flavours I tried were amazing. I recommend mapping them out so you can find one in whatever area you are in. I wish I could eat it everyday!
The pizza here was delicious. It’s in a super touristy area but it’s a great place to grab a glass of wine and gluten-free pizza if you are near the pantheon. I was very happy to have my margherita pizza and a glass of wine after a long day traveling.
This restaurant near the Vatican is also a little touristy but they can make almost the whole menu gluten-free. It’s a great spot to stop for a quick lunch if you are in the area. The margherita pizza was delicious with a great crust!
This restaurant was highly recommended online for gluten free-dining. It is in the Travestere area and I think there must be better options around. Based on the good reviews I tried it but the food was so so. They have a gluten-free menu which is what I think draws people to the restaurant but my salad was the worst I had in Italy and my spaghetti carbonara was not great. I make a much better one at home!
Where to buy products:
Pharmacies and grocery stores usually had some gluten-free products for sale. If you are moving around like I was I recommend stocking up on some pasta and snacks as it is hard to know what will be available. The tiny grocery in a little port town had a gluten-free section while a much larger store in a bigger town did not.
- Research and map out restaurants that are recommended by other gluten-free travellers. I saved photos of maps to different restaurants on my phone and also mapped restaurants that were recommended on a paper map. The streets in Rome aren’t on a grid so it’s a good idea to map out the places you want to eat if you aren’t using GPS.
- Print a celiac card in Italian: http://www.celiactravel.com/cards/italian/
- Pack snacks.
Part 2 of my trip coming soon!